Copyright 2007 Bianca D'Arc. All Rights Reserved.
Adele pushed through the portal and waited a moment for her eyes to adjust to the gloom inside. What she could see of the place was clean and well kept. The atmosphere was dark, quiet and relaxing rather than sinister as she'd half expected. She noted the big men at the bar as her eyes adjusted slowly, scanning the room for her aunt. The place was set up with small private booths and one long bar area where the men clustered. Soldiers, they had to be, though they were all in civ clothing. On leave or perhaps retirees, she guessed, noting the bartender looked to built on the same grand scale. Soldiers were just bigger than regular human males. It had something to do with their diet and training, she knew, but other than that, she hadn't paid much attention.
Unlike many civilians, Adele had no real opinion about soldiers. Oh, she appreciated the sacrifices they made trying to keep the Milky Way Galaxy safe from the jit'suku threat, but she'd never really had any dealings with them on a personal basis. She knew many civ men discriminated against them-probably because they felt small by comparison.
She'd seen soldiers here and there throughout her travels and to a man they were all huge and rather intimidating. She supposed a civilian man would feel a little threatened by their towering height and imposing brawn, but she felt somehow comforted by their large, protective presence. Surely, if men such as these were fighting the jit'suku out on the rim, the rest of humanity would always be safe. They inspired that kind of confidence with their silent, somewhat menacing ways.
Adele swept the room once again but didn't see her aunt, so she decided to brave the quiet crowd at the bar to ask. She walked to an open space, feeling enclosed by the heat of the big men sitting on either side of her, but she refused to acknowledge the sort of tingly reaction that skittered through her body. It wasn't fear exactly, but it was definitely something that surprised her.
"Pardon me," she said in a voice that carried to the bartender. All eyes turned to her and she found herself the unexpected center of attention. "Can you tell me if Della Senna is here? I understand she's dealing here now." The bartender slung a towel over his shoulder and walked toward her with a rolling gait that oozed sex appeal. She'd never been this close to a soldier, much less half a dozen of them, and each and every one was solidly built, and handsome as sin. This bartender was perhaps the prettiest of the bunch, with perfectly chiseled features and a confident, friendly expression.
When he smiled, she felt the bottom fall out of her stomach. He was definitely what her old friend Mary would label DDG -- Drop Dead Gorgeous.
"Della's on break, but she'll be back in about five minutes if you want to wait."
His deep voice sent little shivers down her spine. The man was sexy as hell and dangerous to boot. She could feel it crackling in the air around him as he stopped right in front of her on the other side of the bar. She was glad of the hard metal of the bar between them. His attention shifted to the man seated on her right. A slight nod and narrowing of his eyes was all that was needed to make the other man jump into action. A moment later, he'd drawn a barstool up behind her and politely assisted her to sit.
"Thank you." She looked over at the man on the right, surprised by his youth. This soldier was definitely younger than her and his clothes looked brand new. Perhaps he was on leave. She smiled at him and his face seemed to heat just the tiniest bit with a flush of embarrassment. She liked the young man immediately. He was polite and a little shy, which surprised her even more. Built like a freighter, she wouldn't have imagined anything as simple as a smile could fluster him, but apparently it did.
"What'll you have, ma'am?" The bartender polished a small glass and set it before her, probably assuming she'd have a typical girly drink suited to the petite glass. Feeling daring, she smiled with an air of challenge. "Do you have any Pearson's Star Ale on tap?"
The bartender straightened and smiled, taking the little glass away. "Indeed I do. Coming right up."
When he turned to fetch her ale, she was treated to a lovely view of his sculpted ass. The man was pure muscle and his formfitting pants showed his assets off to best advantage. She'd bet he made great tips from the ladies based just on his butt alone. Sighing, she and sat back on the surprisingly comfortable stool. She didn't feel as out of place here as she'd feared. The atmosphere was quiet, but welcoming.
A moment later the handsome bartender was back, placing a frothy, frosted pint before her with relish. Adele licked her lips, staring at the perfectly poured portion. She had a taste for this particular brew and didn't partake of it often due to its hefty price, but this occasion seemed to call for it. With relish, she took a sip of the thick, dark ale and the taste exploded on her tongue.
She moved to get her credit chit, but a big hand swooped in from the side, pressing a credit chit into the bartender's hand.
"Allow me, ma'am."
Startled, she looked over to acknowledge the huge man sitting to her left. Blonde and blue eyed, this guy was a little older than her. Probably a retiree, and a recent one, if the newness of his clothing was anything to go by. Soldiers didn't usually have a lot of money to spare when they left the service and this ale was a luxury. She couldn't let him pay for it in good conscience, though it was a lovely gesture.
"That's very kind of you but-"
"It would be my pleasure. My name is David." His smile totally disarmed her. It was even more devastating than the bartender's.
"I'm Adele," she found herself answering, though she hadn't intended to give out any personal information to people she didn't know on this little sojourn to the far side of the station.
"A beautiful name for a beautiful lady."
The bartender groaned. "You need to brush up your lines, Dave. That one's as old as the core." The other men around them laughed and David smiled good naturedly. He seemed used to the ribbing from his comrades and paid it no mind.
"Doesn't make it any less true." His gaze held hers and for a moment it felt like only the two of them existed in the whole universe.